What Would Einstein Think About Enterprise Software?
The name Albert Einstein is synonymous with genius. The German born theoretical physicist and philosopher of science published more than 300 scientific papers along with over 150 non-scientific works during his lifetime and was known for his intellectual achievements and originality.
Einstein is a constant companion in our office. We have a colorful abstract portrait of him on our wall that was created by Erik Wahl in his keynote on creativity at Coupa Inspire in San Francisco last year. With the image of the great man watching over us, I got to thinking one day, if Einstein were alive now, what would he think about enterprise software and all the technology we enjoy today?
Based on some of his famous quotations, I think he would be a big fan of the cloud, Software-as-a-Service and the user-centricity movement. Don’t believe me? Read on.
“If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself.”
If a child were to sit down and use your software, could they do it without even being able to read, just based on visual cues such as buttons, navigation and colors? Clearly Einstein would have grasped that user interfaces need to be so intuitive that just about anyone would know what to do. I think he would have appreciated that designing for non-geniuses takes genius.
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
The only constant is change. For software to remain relevant and effective, it has to continue to evolve as your business evolves. One of the promises of SaaS is that business users can have full ownership and control over the solution so they can change their business processes to respond to conditions, by themselves, with no technical skills needed. I think he would have been a SaaS fan.
“A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.”
SaaS providers are redefining customer support as Customer Success. Customer support sits back and waits for the phone to ring. Customer Success proactively goes out and checks on the customer to make sure they are getting the most of their solution, offering them benchmarks, best practices and continual ideas for improvement. I think he would have seen the wisdom of Customer Success.
“If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?”
Sometimes the most exhilarating part of the journey is not arriving at the destination, but the surprises along the way. Analytics tools give you the opportunity to explore, ask better questions and discover things you never could have imagined at the starting point. Just think what Einstein might have discovered with modern data analytics tools at his disposal.
“When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That's relativity.”
A lot of applications today are so intuitive and easy to use they’ve set a new standard for transacting electronically. Where we used to tolerate waiting two or three minutes for a dial-up connection, now we expect things to happen in seconds, with as few clicks as possible. Even waiting ten or fifteen seconds for a video to load seems like an eternity these days! In contrast, when you’re finding exactly what you need and accomplishing things with every click, time flies. That’s relativity, Web style.
“Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value.”
How do you define success for an enterprise software project? We think it should be defined by bottom line value. Fuzzier definitions of success may not lead to value, but aiming at real, quantifiable savings of time and money will certainly lead to success.
“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
Tech innovation is all about changing the way we do things, which means we need to change our thinking. At Coupa, we’re on a quest to change the way organizations think about spending money. We’re working to breaking down the artificial silos that separate pre-approved, post-approved and unapproved spending. It’s all about spending, but up until now we’ve had separate tools for each. We’re building a unified suite of cloud applications to change that and bring organizations new visibility across all three areas, and that means thinking about them as one instead of as separate. I can think of a lot of ways Einstein inspires us on our quest.
What about you? If Einstein was alive today, what do you think he would think or say about enterprise software?